Now Pope Ratzinger plans to stop gays entering the priesthood. (Though God knows how.)
As we plough on into the 21st century the Church hierarchy responds to the pressures of modernity by becoming even tighter-arsed.
It's a mad policy- one that will deepen an already calamitous manpower crisis.
Of course it's impossible to be sure how many of the great figures in the Church's history were gay, but it's certain that lots of them were. Several of the Renaissance Popes were shameless. Julius III made his lover a cardinal. So did Paul IV.
More recently Pope Paul VI (1963-78) was outed by the writer Roger Peyrefitte as the patron of an exclusive male brothel in Milan.
At the heart of the Vatican is the Sistine Chapel. Its paintings are among the core images of western Christendom. They are the work of Michelangelo- the greatest of the many gay artists to have served the Church. I like to think of Ratzinger sitting there in his white and gold with all those voluptuous male nudes gesticulating at his back and flying over his head.
They will be gesticulating and flying (and seducing all-comers) long after Ratzinger has gone.